The Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx, jointly known as Necropolis, is a part of the famous Giza Pyramid Complex. It is located on the Giza Plateau on the outskirts of Cairo. Also known as the Pyramid of Cheops or Khufu, the Great Pyramid is the oldest, as well as the biggest of the three Pyramids in the said complex. It is considered as the most ancient among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Egyptologists believe that the Pyramid was built around 2560 BC as a tomb for the Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh Khufu or Cheops and it took about 10 to 20 years to complete it.
Khufu’s pyramid is perhaps the most colossal single structure ever erected on this planet. For more than 3500 years it retained the glory of the tallest man-made structure in the world. It is estimated that, originally it was 280 Egyptian cubits tall (146.5m or 480.6 feet)), but with erosion and the absence of its pyramidion (uppermost piece or the capstone), its present height has become 138.8 m (455.4 feet). While the core of the pyramid is made of yellowish limestone blocks, the outer casing and the inner passages are of finer light-colored limestone. However, the interior burial chamber is built of huge blocks of granite. About 2.3 million stone blocks, weighing an average of 2.5 to 15 tons each, were used to complete the enormous construction. According to ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the Great Pyramid took 20 years to complete the construction and needed the labour of 100,000 persons to make it happen. It means that, to complete the structure in 20 years, more than 12 blocks of stone were needed to move each hour. About 5.5 million tons of limestone, used for the casing, were transported across the river, and about 8000 tons of granite were transported from Aswan.
The original entrance to the Great Pyramid is on the north side, just about 17m (56 feet) vertically above ground level. From the original entrance, there is a descending passage, which ends in an unfinished underground chamber. However, today tourists enter the Great Pyramid through the Robbers’ Tunnel, a tunnel created around AD 820.
From the descending corridor, as mentioned earlier, an ascending narrow passageway branches out, which finally leads to a room known as the Queen’s Chamber and to a great slanting gallery, called the Great Gallery. The Queen’s Chamber is exactly halfway between the north and the south faces of the pyramid. The Great Gallery is 8.6 m (28 feet) high and 46.68 m (153.1 feet) long. Its upper end gives access to the proper burial chamber, termed as the King’s Chamber.
The King’s Chamber is measured 10.47 m (34.4 feet) from east to west and 5.234 m (17.17 feet) from north to south. The room is entirely lined and roofed with granite. There are two narrow shafts in the north and south walls The purpose of the shafts, however, is not very clear. Scholars maintain that, they may be designed for ventilation or for serving some ritualistic purpose associated with the ascension of the king’s spirit to the heavens. Above the roof of the chamber, which is formed of nine slabs of stone, are five compartments known as Relieving Chambers. The compartments were probably intended to safeguard the King’s Chamber from the possibility of a roof collapsing. The King’s Chamber’s contains a rectangular granite sarcophagus, a funeral receptacle for a corpse, one corner of which is broken.
How the huge structure was built in those early days of human history is still an enigma. Possibly, the Egyptians employed a sloping and encircling embankment – made of brick, earth, and sand. Probably, they increased the embankment in height and in length along with the pyramid and finally, stone blocks were hauled up the ramp by means of sledges, rollers, and levers.